El Nido, Palawan, Philippines, May 2016. Having spent a few days here now El Nido is an expensive tourist trap, no doubt about that but is a stay here worth the price?.
El Nido is not the quiet, quaint picturesque town I’ve seen portrayed in some online blogs I have come across in recent weeks. No, on the contrary the place is quite a hive of activity on the tourist front while. open drains, slums and squalor can describe local life behind the scenes while hundreds of white and domestic tourists cram into the very small densely packed centre with narrow streets barely coping with the relentless flow of tricycles, motorbikes and minivans. Streets packed with shacks, sheds and kids trying to sell real pears at £4 a string! Every place is a souvenir shop, tour booking counter and tourist restaurant. Its fair to to say the place is a little on the rundown side.
Eating and sleeping here isn’t cheap by Southeast Asian standards. Any on-line search for budget accommodation quickly reveals that budget options for El Nido are in very short supply (as of February 2016) – especially for a solo traveler trying to avoid dorm rooms in hostels! Food, well, its a tourist trap in that department too and one has to put up with pricey tourist offerings. Food prices here can be 3X more than in Thailand, Malaysia and 2x the prices in Cambodia on average. Later though I did find a local canteen with good cheap local Filipino food (later blog).
The town has a beach, a surprisingly clean beach given the number of tourists here. Fronting the entire town about 1/2 a mile long and an easy enough walk replacing the continuous noise of traffic with boom boom base as one strolls past a reggae bar. Around 9.30 am and the place is awash with Westerners, some clutching their beer and flaunting their boobs, waiting to board Island hopping boats. Around 5 pm the place is again awash with tourists returning from the their voyages while that boom boom base resonates around the bay. For those seeking a quieter scene with a more chilled vibe all is not lost. A little way out of town along the coast North, past El Nido corner and the Makulay bar has all the chilled out vibe at sunset anyone can handle!
Behind the scenes in El Nido… Somewhat rustic where water has to be hand pumped.
On the town beach in El Nido…